Pooled-sample testing as a herd-screening tool for detection of bovine viral diarrhea virus persistently infected cattle


Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.

The study was conducted to develop methodology for least-cost strategies for using polymerase chain reaction (PCR)/probe testing of pooled blood samples to identify animals in a herd persistently infected with bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV). Cost was estimated for 5 protocols using Monte Carlo simulations for herd prevalences of BVDV persistent infection (BVDV-PI) ranging from 0.5% to 3%, assuming a cost for a PCR/probe test of $20. The protocol associated with the least cost per cow involved an initial testing of pools followed by repooling and testing of positive pools. For a herd prevalence of 1%, the least cost per cow was $2.64 (95% prediction interval = $1.72, $3.68), where pool sizes for the initial and repooled testing were 20 and 5 blood samples per pool, respectively. Optimization of the least cost for pooled-sample testing depended on how well a presumed prevalence of BVDV-PI approximated the true prevalence of BVDV infection in the herd. As prevalence increased beyond 3%, the least cost increased, thereby diminishing the competitive benefit of pooled testing. The protocols presented for sample pooling have general application to screening or surveillance using a sensitive diagnostic test to detect very low prevalence diseases or pathogens in flocks or herds.


Munoz-Zanzi CA, Johnson WO, Thurmond MC, Hietala SK: J Vet Diagn Invest 12: 195-203, 2000.